If you’re like me, the idea of fostering a child is simultaneously compelling and terrifying. In my case, I was identified as kinship care (a relative, able to care for a child in foster care). So, we did what every resource parent does: we participated in more than 30 hours of training, multiple interviews, and a home study. After a period of time, the children were in our home.
Many people begin the foster parent journey by asking their friends about it, or they do a quick google search for an agency like Northern Virginia Family Service. All of these are fantastic starting points, all leading to someone like me: a resource parent recruiter.
A resource parent recruiter gathers information and interviews the family and is available to answer any questions the family might have. What do you expect me to do? Will I ever get a break? What about family vacations, can the foster children come with me? What happens when things get out of hand? You want me to take HOW many hours of training first?
These are completely normal questions, and I want to answer some of them for you right now!
First, you will need to complete an inquiry form. This is not the same as an application, but it gives NVFS or another agency your basic contact information and will likely include a brief statement about why you want to be a foster parent. Once that is complete, we will contact you to schedule an initial interview. This is a chance for your family to meet the agency (and vice versa). We are determining whether we are a good fit for each other. Do our methods and beliefs align with yours? Do yours align with ours? If they do, great! We will schedule a second interview. If they don’t, that’s fine too. It is very important when you are becoming a foster parent to consider how well you work with the agency you have selected. We call this part of the Mutual Assessment Process. The process is ongoing from the first phone call through certification. If we mutually agree to move forward from the interview, you will be invited to complete an application to be a foster parent.
The application is straightforward. You will add more information about your home. Where did you go to school? How were you raised? What experiences have you had with children before? This application, along with previous interactions, will be presented to the foster care team for consideration as it forms a training cohort. If it still seems like your family and the agency are a good fit, you will be invited to pre-service training.
Stay tuned for our next blog post: What is pre-service training and why do I need it?
Liz Boddye is a resource parent recruiter at Northern Virginia Family Service. Liz recruits foster parents and is a foster parent herself. Learn more how to become a foster parent.